PhotoConsumers loosened up their purse strings in September and did some shopping.

The Commerce Department reports retail sales surged 1.6 percent last month, totaling $483.9 billion. That put sales 4.4 percent higher than they were in September 2016.

Sales at gas stations soared 5.8 percent from August and were up 11.4 percent from September 2016. Also showing strong month-over-month gains were motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.6 percent), as well as building materials, garden equipment, and supplies dealers (+2.1 percent).

Declines in sales were registered by electronics & appliance stores (-1.1 percent), department stores (-0.4 percent), and health & personal care stores (-0.4 percent).

The rough weather during the month played a role in the increase, according to National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

“Hurricane impacts were very clear, with a strong boost for building materials going a long way to offset downturns elsewhere," he said.

"Results were mixed among several business lines but the bottom line was a good increase over August and strong growth from a year ago. While the hurricanes played a major role in the data, they did not fundamentally affect the upward path of the economy.”

The complete report is on the Commerce Department website.

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